Girl across the river
THE film version of Up the Junction ("X," Rialto), Nell Dunn's television play about Battersea life revealed to the rich girl from the other side of the river still gives many signs of life.
The great centrepiece is the Battersea teenage pop party which is noisy, may be monstrous, but is certainly not moribund.
Only the casting of the heroine seems not quite exact and therefore less than fair to Suzy Kendall. She is a charming and appealing young actress, but not exactly the poor little Chelsea rich girl who traditionally digs down to escape from her own class.
Dennis Waterman, on the other hand, is wholly endearing as the scooter-boy who wins her love but cannot quite bridge the Thames. Adrienne Posta is distressingly real as the vulgar nit-wit who gets pregnant and undergoes a dreadful abortion.
There is a stunning dramatic performance as her outraged mother by the usually comic Liz Fraser. Hilda Baker is the "backstreet" abortionist.
Vitality there is, but the scrappy modes of television are not always co-ordinated into the film, which leaves a double impression of anti-climax: from its television original (as movies derived from television incline to do) and from the surer, if not fresher touch of Nell Dunn's other film, "Poor Cow".
If the values in "Up the Junction" seem inverted, in New Face In Hell ("X", Carlton) they are practically obliterated. William Orbison (Raymond — "Perry Mason" — Burr), a ferocious tycoon of the kind formerly played by Sidney Greenstreet, hires P. J. Detweiler (George Peppard) as a bodyguard for his mistress, Maureen (Gayle Hunnicutt).
Detweiler's duties are to guard Maureen Against possible attack by Mrs. Orbison and her relatives who want to guard the Orbison millions from Maureen. About halfway through, Orbison tricks Detweiler into shooting a man whose connections with the rest of the story take the rest of the film to unravel.
This squalid collection of uninteresting characters eventually beat, gouge and shoot each other into a toll of bodies worthy of Webster. The only amusing scenes are those in the tiny island in the Bahamas, where Orbison takes his entourage. The most interesting character is the West Indian local police chief, Waterpark (Brock Peters) who is clearly, astutely but quite loyally grooming himself to succeed the governor (Wilfrid Hyde White) when the island one day gets its independence.
U.N.C.L.E. has surely made as many farewell films as any prima donna. The Helicopter Spies ("U", Ritz) reaches the stage of science pantomime rather than science fiction. Seeking to prevent a deadly weapon from falling into wrong hands, SoIo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya (David McCallum) land after a chase in a Greek island among a strange cult of white-haired people and a Persian palace belonging to a demon scientist.
The only feeling their antics inspired in me was mild regret to see that charming actress Lola Albright wasted as a sort of demon queen of "High Priestess Azalea."
Anthony Asquith's death is a sad loss to the British cinema and to all of us who have taken pride in it, Over the first 40 years of British films Asquith
was a consistently represtntstive figure in the tradition of quality which British films maintained in the international film jungle.
Son of the late Lord Oxford and the celebrated Lady Oxford, Anthony was one of the first educated young aristocrats to choose the cinema for his career. The entry in the British Film and Television Year Book reads: "Educated Winchester and Oxford. After studying films in Hollywood, returned to England as director in 1927."
Throughout his long career and all his pictures he preserv
ed the elegance and good manners of his background, with the single-mindedness of his dedication to his chosen art of cinema.
An early Asquith film of Compton Mackenzie's "Carnival" — "Dance Pretty Lady" — gave me in 1932 my first grasp of the way in which movies should move. His prewar picture of "Pygmalion" was a more than worthy predecessor of "My Fair Lady".
In "The Importance of Being Earnest", he took to Wilde like a swan to the water. Asquith's collaboration with Terence Rattigan gave us such successful versions of civilised theatre as "French Without Tears", "While the Sun Shines", "The Winslow Boy", "The Browning Version".
But for all his drawing-room manner and manners, Asquith could always turn his talents to the tougher or more popular needs of cinema: to make a fine film of the warlike "The Way to the Stars" or a popular domestic comedy like "Quiet Wedding". And although he was 65 when he died he remained young in mind and always in touch with today.
His post-Resistance. thriller "Orders to Kill" had startling violence and truth; and when he had Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to direct in 'The V.I.P.s" — a sort of "Grand Hotel" of London airport, he did it immaculately.
I can personally vouch, too, for the fact that Asquith's courtesy, far from being artificial, always carried the all important mark of kindness. wilHe l missed on and off
'Luther' on U.S. TV
ROBERT SHAW played the title role in the recent American television performance of John Osborne's play, Luther. Pope Leo X was played by Robert Morley.